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 The Morning After the Disaster...

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Oliver

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PostSubject: The Morning After the Disaster...    Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:32 am

On most days, it took a few good shakes and a lovingly spoken threat of bodily harm from Fiona before Jamie would unwillingly remove himself from his bed. Today was different however, scenes from the chaos of the night before having kept him awake until the ungodly hour of the morning he was expected to start work. Today, when the flash of red hair colored the darkness as his sister slipped into his room to rouse him, she was surprised to find him already dressed and sitting at the end of his small bed, a frown tugging at the corners of his lips.

With a quick good morning and a knowing look, Fiona disappeared back out into the hall to start her day, quickly followed by her brother. Jamie could feel the tension rolling off of his sister as it was himself, despite her warm smile and the obvious resignation to carry on with the day as if nothing had happened the night before. In any other situation, Jamie would be at least partially relieved that the night had been ruined and all attentions were lifted from him before he could thoroughly mess something up, but he could find no joy no matter how he tried to look at it.

Geneva was going to be a nightmare today, more so than usual, the weight of her presence like a dark cloud upstairs waiting patiently for the sun to rise to let the storm break and cloud out the light of day with her darkness. That alone was enough to turn his stomach sour but there was also the promise of having to serve Lord Brantley and the troubles he would cause, as if this family didn’t have enough on their own.

Finally down from the attic and into the kitchen, he quietly collected the basket that held all the tools to start the fires, giving a small smile to the kitchen staff as they sleepily got to work around him. Usually, he was only in charge of lighting Quinn’s fire before moving to the ground floor as Fiona lit the fires in the female wing, but today he would have to enter the unknown territory that was the newcomers bedroom. Jamie tried to keep his hands from shaking as he started up the servants staircase.

Blessedly, the room was silent when he entered, meaning the occupant was still asleep and there would be no interaction with the stranger. It was welcome, but also strange as Quinn was an early riser and would often be awake to greet Jamie as he came into his room, and they didn’t often have guests for him to tend to. As quietly as he could, the boy laid out the linen over the carpet and set to work, the fire sparking to life before him as he wiped his soot covered hands on the cloth beneath him, standing to stretch and collect his tools.

With the flames now illuminating the room with a warm glow, Jamie got a look at the bed, the sight making his cheeks burn brighter than the newly kindled fire. Where he had expected the sleeping form of one body, he found two, long legs intertwined with one another as the sheets that seem to have been cast away failed to cover any part of the two otherwise naked men. As the sight registered in his brain and he found himself staring at what he realized were the forms of Lord Brantley and his Valet, Jamie let out an unwelcomed gasp as his tools clattered to the floor with a small puff of black dust.

The noise didn’t seem to bother the Lord in the slightest, but the younger man lifted his head, his eyes making contact with Jamies as a smirk began to tug at his lips. The valet raised one finger to his lips in a motion that said, “Shh” before blowing the redhead a mocking kiss and laying his head back down on the bare chest of his employer. With shaking hands and a rapidly beating heart, Jamie gathered his tools and all but ran from the room, needing to put as much distance between himself and the bedroom as possible.

~~~~

Quinn was awake as usual when Jamie came in to light the fire, but instead of greeting him warmly, the older boy hardly even noticed when the redhead slipped into his room. It took a clatter of metal to tear his gaze away from the pages of a novel he hadn’t actually been reading but just staring at for the larger part of the early morning. He gave his friend a small smile and a soft good morning, his tired gaze seeing an odd emotion painted over the boys features but didn’t ask what was wrong. He made a mental note to ask his friend what was bothering him later, for now he wasn’t even sure he could form a coherent question.

With a small intake of breath as the fire roared to life across the room, he let his eyes fall shut, his eyelids feeling sticky from lack of sleep. The thought of letting sleep overtake him sounded tempting but the dreams that would follow were more than unwelcome, they were almost frightening. He couldn’t help but wonder in his sleepless hours if everyone that came in contact with Lord Brantley found it impossible to stop picturing those vivid brown eyes.

With a puff of breath, Quinn snapped the volume shut before reaching for his stele that lay upon his bedside table, the promise of an energy rune reminding him that he was being rude.

“Interesting night.” He said softly as his friend stood and wiped his hands on his trousers. Quinn couldn’t help but note that Fiona would be furious if she saw her little brother make a mess of his uniform like that, bringing a more genuine smile to his lips.

“You could say that.” Jamie agreed, obviously trying to keep his tone light but unable to keep his voice from shaking slightly. As Quinn finished his rune and felt the surge of alertness wash over him, he cast his friend a concerned look but before he could ask what was wrong, the boy was gathering his tools and mumbling an excuse about having to light the downstairs fires and disappeared out of the room as quickly as he had come. Quinn’s lips tugged down into a frown as he watched his bedroom door close behind his friend, the boys strange actions adding to his seemingly endless mental list of things to worry about.

Dressing methodically, the shadowhunter did his best to hide the fact that he was running off of about an hours sleep, the day ahead of him painfully daunting even if he had a full night's rest. The sun was just beginning to bathe the halls in light as he exited his room, walking slowly towards the staircase as if he could somehow avoid the day ahead and the interactions it held if he just lingered in the corridor long enough.

Eventually he made his way down the staircase and into the dining room where breakfast was already displayed. His gaze swept the room quickly and to his unwanted disappointment, found that Lord Brantley had yet to come down. Quinn was in fact the first one down, though completely lacking an appetite, the normally wonderful smelling array of food made his stomach do a small flip of discomfort. Deciding on just a cup of tea, he took his place at the table to the right of his mothers seat at the head and sipped his tea quietly, wishing it had been Jamie or Fiona who had served the breakfast instead of one of the borrowed footman that his mother had hired for last night's dinner, in need of the distraction of companionship to pull him from his own thoughts and especially to keep his mind from dwelling on the night before.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:21 pm

Verity groaned as her door opened, burying herself further beneath her covers and shoving her pillow over her head. She rarely wanted to face the day at the beginning of the morning, and it always took her several minutes to actually summon the will to do so. Thankfully, this was enough time for Fiona to light the fire in her room, and nothing was required of the Shadowhunter yet.

Once the flames were flickering softly, their warmth and light soothing, Verity detangled herself from her blankets and peeked her head out to smile at her friend. Fiona was rinsing her hands in a water basin on a small table nearby, and turned from the corner of the room as Verity bid her good morning.

"I'm glad to see I haven't lost you to Miss Cartwright," Verity joked, throwing back her blankets with finality. There was no escaping the morning, and so finally she reserved herself to join it. It was a good thing that Fiona was here with her every morning to do so.

The two alternated between chitchat and comfortable silence, all the while avoiding the topic of the disaster that had been the previous evening. Verity was never one for such restraint, but since her twin was quite involved, she just managed to keep her thoughts to herself just this once.

"It was mentioned at dinner last night that a tour of the grounds was in order," Verity spoke, standing and walking towards her dresses. She pulled out her most frivolous, fanciest gown and motioned to Fiona. "I think this would work perfectly, don't you?" She joked, trying to lighten the atmosphere, before returning the garment to its original place. Fiona had already chosen the actual dress Verity wanted to wear, without the younger girl even having to say anything.

Task at hand, Verity was dressed quickly in a muted purple. Her corset was looser than Geneva would have approved of, but Verity hoped that in all the potential scandal that lay here, she wouldn't notice. Furthermore, she blatantly refused when Fiona offered to pin her hair. Something good had to come from the unexpected arrival of Lord Brantley, and Verity was willing to risk it on her mother's divided attention.

Verity always wished that Fiona could stay longer, that the two girls could relax and continue talking about anything and everything, but both had somewhere to be. The redhead slipped quickly out of the room, and the other girl didn't even spare herself another glance in the mirror before also leaving.

Bounding down the stairs loudly, Verity rounded the corner and practically fell into her seat across from her brother. Unsurprisingly he was the first one down, but his sister was unexpectedly the second. Often she was late, but many more significant things were amiss in the Institute now.

Eyeing Quinn as he slowly sipped his tea, Verity thanked the unfamiliar servant as a full breakfast was placed before her. More likely than not she should wait for the others before eating, but with only Quinton as her witness she started on a piece of toast. The silence between them was comfortable, but she still hated for it to last too long.

"I made the assumption that you'd like me to accompany you and your blushing bride today," she smiled, finished with her toast and moving on to the eggs. "Tell me, will Lord Brantley be joining us as well?" Verity raised her eyebrows at her brother, quite aware that they hadn't been able to freely speak of last night's events, knowing that they still couldn't now with servants near.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Colette stared at her ceiling, desperately waiting for someone to come tell her what to do or exactly what her place was here. Pale sunlight was streaming through her window and warmed the room, but the blonde couldn't bring herself to get up and close the curtain.

"Miss?" A voice sounded, knocking on the door. Colette immediately sat up in bed, calling for her rescuer to come in and help her prepare for the day.

The maid was as young as she, and not one that she recognized. With a small surprise, Colette realized she had wished to see Fiona, because at least there was one familiar face in this sea of new experiences. Instead, once again something different from what she expected was thrown her way, but Colette refused to show any sadness or uncertainty now that she had an audience. The maid knelt to tend to the fire, and Colette watched with patient eyes.  

"Oh," the girl started as her fingers discovered a half-scorched piece of paper in the remnants of last night's flames. Colette's looping handwriting was clearly visible on the parts that weren't burned, and she lamented the fact that the letter hadn't been destroyed fully the previous night.

"Please just put it back in the fire," Colette said with her kindest, most uninterested voice, even though she cared a great deal if the sweet maid read it or not.

After the events that were the night before, Colette had gratefully retreated to her room. Try as she might, she had been unable to fall asleep, altogether worried at the new life that lay before her here. Finally, a few hours past midnight she had risen and penned a letter to her father. She hadn't outright asked to return home, but had said that she missed him and his wife enough that the meaning would be understood.

Reading back on her words, Colette had thrown the paper into the fire, disappointed in herself. She couldn't dare complain, she had been honored with this opportunity and should be grateful, even if not everything had gone smoothly yet.

With that in mind, Colette had slept restlessly for the remainder of the night, and had woken long before the maid had come. Now, the girl started the fire and turned to help Colette dress wordlessly.

"Will there be anything else, Miss Cartwright?" she said at last, admiring her work. At Colette's request the corset was tight, but truly the Shadowhunter would look better if she could somehow obtain a decent night's sleep. Colette shook her head, thanked her quiet maid, and breathed a sigh of relief when she left.

Pinching her cheeks in hopes of bringing color to them, Colette frowned. She was tempted to give herself an energy rune, but did not have a way to hide it and so decided against it. With nothing else to delay the inevitable, she left her room and made her way downstairs.

"Good morning," Colette said with a pleasant voice, hoping she wasn't betraying her uneasiness. She took what she hoped was her seat next to Quinton, finding the twins to already be in conversation. "Oh, I'm terribly sorry to interrupt," she said quickly, hating how immediately she assumed she was not wanted here.

Verity took it in stride, practically speaking for her brother as a servant brought the new arrival her breakfast. "Nonsense, Miss Cartwright, we were merely discussing the plans for today. It's wonderful weather, so you simply must see what the Institute has to offer outside of its walls."

Colette was grateful to be included. "That sounds delightful. And please, I think it's time everyone start calling me Colette." It was more forward than she would have liked, but Colette hoped that this would make the residents more comfortable with her.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:16 am

The icy chill that woke Fiona that next morning was not as jarring as it usually was. Her room hadn’t suddenly become better insulated and neither had the pile of twigs she called a fire gotten any more robust. Sleep had come very late to Fiona, so full was her mind of worry over the previous night’s events. Her few hours of sleep had been fitful ones, straying far from the blissful depths of utter unconsciousness that usually followed a day full of work. The pre-dawn light felt like it had caught her dozing, leaving her with an exhaustion she knew would plague her throughout the day. Her worries weren’t going away, either.

Checking in on Jamie took priority over everything and was her usual stop after dressing for the day. She was surprised to find that he too looked like he had slept little, sitting on the side of his bed, fully dressed. Fiona smiled softly to herself, as she left him to begin his day. The boy had a sensitive soul and was obviously feeling the weight of the scandal upon their friends.

Fortunately, she was able to see to one half of that group, making her way from the servant’s wing to the female, residential rooms. The low groan that greeted her entrance to Verity’s room brought the soft smile back to Fiona’s face. Some things would never change. It felt good to have some familiarity, after the massive deviation from all norms that was last night’s dinner party.

"I'm glad to see I haven't lost you to Miss Cartwright," Verity said, the muffled sound of sheets being thrown off, signaling to Fiona that her friend was ready to talk. Fiona finished washing away the ashy smudges that building up the fire had left on her hands, and began the conversation by noting that, if she left Verity to serve Miss Cartwright, then Verity herself might never leave her bed.

The conversation pretty much kept going on such innocent topics as the weather and what might be served for breakfast, as Fiona fingered through the dresses in Verity’s closet, already guessing what might be on today’s agenda.

"It was mentioned at dinner last night that a tour of the grounds was in order," Verity said, giving Fiona’s assumption the stamp of truth. If there was one thing Fiona knew about her friend, it was that she was not the type of person to leave an interesting situation be, despite the scandal that was associated with it.

Fiona continued to joke and fuss over Verity, finally conceding the Battle of the Pin-less Hair to her mistress. Her mind was less on propriety that morning and more on what the day’s excursion and subsequent conversation would unearth about their new guest. She left Verity with a promise from the other girl to relay all that occurred, later that night.

Fiona’s morning chores always led her past the doors of the training room, on her way to confer with the cook on the morning’s breakfast. However, this morning, Fiona was stopped by the sound of dull thunks and muffled noises of exertion. It was quite odd for anyone to be training at this time, so she paused in her journey to peak her head in. What she saw immediately made her wish she hadn’t.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Geneva had known that sleep would evade her, so she had quickly changed into the loose, trouser-like leg coverings and the tightly cinched tunic of Shadowhunter gear. Her eye had immediately zeroed in on the hand-to-hand, combat dummy, upon entering the training room. Hours later, with the dark nothingness of night fading into the fuzzy gray of dawn, Geneva understood why this particular type of training had appealed to her.

Every time she reared back a fist and released it mercilessly upon the dummy’s wooden frame, she imagined each attendee from the dinner party. Their smug faces filled in the smooth, blankness of the dummy’s face, it’s eyes painted with the disgust and self-assurance of each person who had seen the scandal from the night before and who had not been surprised in the least. Her kicks and jabs became less calculated and more wild, with each passing hour. However, as she felt the control fading away, so she felt the rage leave her, siphoning itself away. As backwards as it was, she felt the flame of the energy that motivated her each day returning, as the hours of exertion built. The face of the dummy was ever-changing, flashing from one face to the next, until it finally landed on the face she wanted to hurt the most.

Geneva barely heard the creak of the door opening, as she focused in on the cat-like grin and luminous eyes of Lord Brantley, mentally superimposed on the dummy. The knuckles of her right hand cracked under the pressure of the fist she had formed, her arm straining with how much strength she was gathering into this blow. She wanted to remember this, to hold this image in her mind for the days to come. And, as she broke the rubber band of her restraint, Geneva realized that she was looking upon this fellow Shadowhunter with the same hate and disgust as she usually reserved for demons. Her fist connected with the dummy’s face, and Geneva imagined that she could feel Brantley’s beautifully sculpted cheek bones turn to chalk under her hand, his flawless skin gashed with deep slashes of red. The dummy’s head didn’t stand a chance and promptly splintered into small, jagged pieces, looking rather as if it had made its way through la guillotine.

Geneva’s breath came in short gasps, sweat pouring down her haggard face. And, yet, she felt better than she had in years, it seemed. She found herself filled with leagues of motivation and energy, the images of last night, still sore, but fading into ghosts of their previous selves. Her anger was still present, as well, but it was that feeling which she had used to revitalize herself, so she was grateful for it’s presence. She allowed a small chuckle to escape, the impropriety of her imaginings ridiculous in their effectiveness. Bracing herself against the wood paneling of the wall next to her, Geneva allowed her mind to race over the power she had felt in this night spent in uncontrollable violence. A thought had been forming, unbeknownst to her, all through her sparring. If such impropriety, was not only satisfying but useful, why couldn’t it be used as an effective strategy in certain situations?

Geneva thought on her predicament of finding an influential hold in the Enclave. All the routes she had used had been geared towards attracting the power of the Shadowhunter elite, and all had been utterly cut off to her by last night's fiasco. Her death grip on propriety had left her feeling cornered and without any other options. If she applied this new theory of effective impropriety, a new door suddenly sprung open. A door to the Downworld.

Taking her full weight back from the support of the wall, Geneva allowed herself to fully realize the presence outside the door. It had always been at the back of her mind and was only now becoming useful, as she realized who exactly it was.

“Have your brother bring the carriage to the front of the Institute at once, Fiona,” Geneva ordered, allowing her voice to full the entire room and spill out into the hallway. “I have a few social calls to make.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hale couldn’t tell whether it was the large amounts of alcohol consumed or his new environment that had exhausted him so thoroughly. The door had been closed on him and Edward for only a few seconds that night, and Hale had already collapsed on the poor excuse for a bed, his discomforted mumblings reflecting his less than positive assessment of the furnishings. Seeing this, Edward accommodated his master in the only way he saw fit. The tryst was brief, due to both partner’s exhaustion, but left Hale much more satisfied. As the cloud of unconsciousness rolled in, his leaden, naked limbs wrapped snuggly around his valet, Hale’s last thought was of the very interesting and exquisitely attractive Quinton Ashbrook.

The soft darkness of Hale’s dreamless sleep was interrupted not too abruptly by his awareness of another person other than Edward in the tiny room. Unlike knowing the precise way to charm a she-wolf or executing a perfect swing in a game of badminton, Hale’s Shadowhunter instincts were not something that faded away with lack of use. His limbs remained immobile, still heavy with sleep, but a surge of adrenaline swept away all the fuzziness of the night before from his mind. He felt Edward shift slightly next to him, the warmth from his body increased now by the addition of a hearty fire. Hale guessed that the new person was one of the Institute’s servants, sent to build the fire, and had already decided to seek a second serving of blissful unconsciousness, when he heard his valet let out a soft hushing noise. This noise was quickly followed by the somewhat subtler, organic disturbance of an increased heartbeat, followed by hurried footsteps and the soft click of a closing door.

“You naughty thing, you,” Hale chided, stretching like a well-fed house cat. “Not all humans are made for such shocks to the system so early in the morning. I am particularly glad you are not afflicted with a fragile constitution.”

Hale grinned mischievously, bringing himself to rest on his forearms over Edward, his shadow dulling the man’s features. He had just captured the valet’s lips between his own, when a flicker of the firelight, combined with a sudden remembrance of the night before, caused Edward’s eyes to flash a stormy green, instead of the their usual icy blue. Hale drew back, his brow furrowed in thought. His body had made the decision to leave the bed almost before Hale himself became aware of it.

“I think I’ll where my green silk coat, with my grey, threaded trousers today, Edward,” Hale said softly, his mind still roving over that strange transformation.

The valet paused only breifely, before retrieving the requested garments. He could feel Edward’s eyes on him as he was dressed, more intense than usual. Hale knew he was acting odd, as he ran his hands through his hair multiple times, but he couldn’t help his strange need to look his utter best at breakfast that morning. It was probably just his usual attention to first impressions, now reimprinting on this second impression on his new housemates. First impressions weren’t nearly as important as second impressions, Hale mused, as he took a last look at himself in the age-clouded mirror. Especially when the first impression in question had been liberally basted with a Dirty Pete’s finest and cheapest liquor.

Hale was nearly out the door, when he remembered Edward, as attentive if not more so since the last time he had noticed him.
“Be a dear, Edward, and put the rest of my beloved coats away,” Hale said, gesturing to the multiple, overflowing valises and the wardrobe they were piled next to. “I know the task of fitting them all in that sad excuse for a wadrobe is daunting, but, if anyone can accomplish such a feat, it would be you, darling.”

With a parting wink, Hale was out the door and down the hall, the energy of that first burst of adrenaline giving a spring to his step. Or, that’s at least what he accounted it to.

He found the dining hall much changed from the night before. Only a handful of place settings were present, taking up a small quarter of the table. The change in the room’s mood was the most noticeable, though. The intoxicating energy of scandal had been replaced by a tense framework of propriety that felt as fragile as a castle of cards. Hale threw off the urge to poke at it, and instead took his seat as respectably as possible next to the woman Shadowhunter in the purple ensemble, her hair loose around her shoulders. Hale already knew he was going to like her.

Adding himself to the table had abruptly stopped the conversation that he’d heard upon entering the dining room, all eyes upon him. Hale marveled momentarily at his recollect of Quinton’s eye color, before clearing his throat slightly and making a show of placing his napkin in his lap.

“It would be my great pleasure to join you all on a tour of the grounds,” Hale said, his voice seeming louder than normal after the heavy silence. “Unless your mother has rethought her plan to leave me in a hellish new situation, I think it most appropriate to get to know more about my new home.”

Hale hadn’t been able to stop himself from making a jab at the ridiculousess of that woman’s fury from the night before, seeing as she was not in attendance presently. He thought the rest of his response had been of the utmost propriety, a feet he had not thought possible before this day. There were a lot of things he had not thought possible, and buttering a piece of toast in the presence of three, respectable Shadowhunters in the London Institute definitely topped the list.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:53 pm

“You naughty thing, you.” Edward couldn’t help but smile as Hale’s voice filled in the silence left by the graceless buffoon that had all but narrated his way through building the fire for all the noise he had made, though thoughts of the redheaded idiot disappeared as the body beside him shifted.

Waking up entangled with the older man wasn’t a new sensation, but it never ceased to make the valet’s heart skip a beat when those brown eyes finally fluttered open and somehow found Edward worthy enough to be the first sight he would focus his lazy gaze on. It also never failed to pull the younger mans lips up in an adoring smile, not like the calculated smiles he had reserved for other employers, but a genuine smile that warmed him more than the newly blazing fire ever could. A warmth he had never known until his first morning waking up beside Lord Brantley.

As Hale’s arms framed either side of Edward's body, the younger man wrapped his arms around the snadowhunters lean waist, pulling the man closer to close what distance there had been between their bodies. Tilting his head up greedily to catch the others lips, ready to deepen the kiss before he saw Hale’s expression change, his brows furrowed together in a rarely seen moment of, what? Indecision? Confusion? Whatever it was, it made the younger mans smile quickly fall into a frown as the warmth of the body that had been pressed against him was suddenly gone.

He tried to reach for the Lord,  to wrap his arms around him and reclaim his attention, but the man had moved too quickly and was now going off about his outfit for the day as if nothing had happened. Edward had no choice but to follow the other out of bed, uncaring that his features were pulled into something that resembled a cross between a scowl and a pout.

His frustration only deepened when he finally let himself hear the instructions Hale was nonchalantly giving as he admired himself in the floor length mirror beside the wardrobe. A year ago, Edward couldn’t have imagined becoming suspicious at an employer's choice in clothing for the day, but he knew the other man well enough to know that particular green silk coat was meant to impress, not that all of Hales clothing weren't lavish and decadent, but this particular item was often saved for special occasions, that and the fact that the older man knew exactly how those grey trousers could always catch the attention of an admirer even from across a busy street…

Finding his own abandoned trousers that had spent the night on the floor beside the bed, he roughly tugged them on before crossing the room to fetch the specified articles of clothing, not bothering to hide his displeasure with the situation when he appeared behind Hale in the mirror.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit late to try to make a good impression?” Edward asked, somewhat bitterly as he helped the lord into his ensemble for the day. As annoyed as he was at the obvious lack of attention he was being paid, it was impossible for the younger man to continue frowning when the magic of the outfit was finally put together. The green of the coat made the lords eyes shine, the well tailored clothing just adding to the already perfect figure standing before him.

“They won't be expecting you this early. I promise to redress you again after.” Edward whispered, letting his now idle hands find their way to Hales now frustratingly clothed hips and leaning in to nip at the mans earlobe playfully. Where he would usually find a teasingly chiding remark or an assured promise to pick things up later, all he got from the man was more of the same distracted indifference.

Casually pulling away, Lord Brantly gave more orders that Edward could only hear as ‘You're not coming down with me.’ then gave an unenthusiastic wink as he slipped out of the room, leaving Edward standing alone in the middle of the room wearing only his trousers and a look that could put the blaze of the fire to shame.
~~~~

"I made the assumption that you'd like me to accompany you and your blushing bride today," The smile that formed on Quinn’s lips when his sister took her place across from him didn’t fall at her teasing, his twins playful nature always helping to ease the weight of overbearing situations.

“Please don’t make me beg.” He laughed softly before taking another sip of tea to hide when his smile did falter at his sister's next words.

“I have no idea how Lord Brantley intends to spend his day but we can only hope that the Institute is still in its proper condition by nightfall if he is to be left unattended.” His attempt to sound uninterested in the subject of Lord Brantley was ruined by the quick pace of his tone and the slight shaking of his voice that he knew would stand out as if he had shouted the words to his sister.

Thankfully, the subject was changed for him as his fiance entered the room, looking uneasy but still beautiful in the soft morning light that illuminated the dining room. Standing gracefully, Quinn gave the young woman a small bow and a smile as she moved towards the table, pulling out the seat beside him for her to sit.

Grateful for Verity’s quick rebuttal to Miss. Cartwrights worries, Quinn nodded in agreement at his sister's warm invitation, his smile growing wider at the young womans obviously nervous though genuine request to be called by her first name.

“My sister is absolutely correct, the only question is where to start and that, I think should be completely up to you. I would love this opportunity to not only show you your new home but learn everything I can about my bride to be. Tell me, Colette,” He cast her a shy but genuine smile, saying the girls name for the first time making him feel odd but in a pleasant way.

“Are you a fan of animals? The Institute has a beautiful pair of horses that our dear Jamie has taken great care in training. And of course there's the garden, though it admittedly needs some looking after, or if you're up for a bit of an excursion, we could make our way down to the pond that lies just east of here. It may not sound like much but the beautiful lighting of the late morning casts an amazingly serene glow to the landscape, possibly much more like the surroundings you grew up amongst.” Quinn broke off, a soft hue coloring his cheeks as he realized he had been babbling. Looking to his sister for help, the conversation was again halted by the entrance of yet another resident coming down for breakfast.

“It would be my great pleasure to join you all on a tour of the grounds,” Hale said, his voice seeming louder than normal after the heavy silence. “Unless your mother has rethought her plan to leave me in a hellish new situation, I think it most appropriate to get to know more about my new home.” Quinn gave a small, uncomfortable laugh at Lord Brantley's comment, not finding the reunion of the man and his mother funny in the least.

“Of course you are welcome, Lord Brantley. We were only just deciding where we should begin.” Trying to keep his voice as polite and impersonal as possible, he found his gaze catching his sisters in an attempt to avoid eye contact with the older man, for reasons he couldn’t currently rationalize.

As the group finished breakfast with only the presence of polite small talk, Quinn found himself repeatedly glancing to his left at his mother's unoccupied chair. Her absence made him uncomfortable, unsure of what it meant because with Geneva, everything had a meaning. When the dishes were cleared, Quinn stood, offering what he hoped didn’t come across as an uneasy smile to the gathering.

“Well, I suppose I should lead our little party outside for a morning of exploring.” Pulling out Colette’s chair for her, he offered her his arm with a smile.

“I know it must be strange finding yourself in a new home so suddenly, though I hope that I can make you as comfortable with your surroundings as possible this is your home now as much as it is ours.” Quinn could see the weariness in the young womans eyes, though her poise hid it well. He knew this was an arrangement that was going to take a lot of getting used to, but Colette had been nothing but charming and polite since her arrival and he was determined to do everything he could to make her feel like she was welcome and more importantly, wanted in these cold halls.

The desire to check to make sure Lord Brantley was following as they exited the dining room towards the entrance hall was overwhelming but Quinn did his best to keep his attention on his fiance, separating from Colette only to pull the heavy wooden door open to let them all out. He gave the young woman a smile as she passed through the threshold, and a grateful look to his twin for accompanying them. Though as Lord Brantley passed by him, he found it impossible to avert his gaze. It was as if there was an entirely new man standing before him than the one he had so crudely met the night before.

Last night, Lord Brantley had been dishevelled, a chaotic energy buzzing around him and soaking every word he had spoken, but this morning he was the picture of perfection. Perfectly groomed and dressed in a way Quinn could never imagine achieving himself. The energy that surrounded the older shadowhunter now was pure and exciting, making his heart beat a little faster as he caught the scent of him in the rush of air he left behind.

Letting the door close behind him once the rest of the party had filed outside, Quinn sucked in a steadying breath of the cool morning air, trying to refocus his thoughts as his gaze found Jamie standing at attention in front of the carriage.

“Jamie?” He blurted, taken aback by the boy's presence. “Is mother headed out?” Casting a questioning look at his sister, he found the same unknowing interest in her eyes. Jamie just shrugged, not very subtly avoiding looking anywhere near where Lord Brantley stood.

“Not sure. Fi just told me to get the carriage ready. Um, sir.” The boy added, awkwardly, glancing at Colette as a bright red hue colored his freckled cheeks.

“Of course, how foolish of me to forget.” Quinn tried to say with a confidence he didn’t feel, not having any idea why his mother was going out so early in the morning but trying to not seem like a complete fool in front of Colette… and Lord Brantley.

“If you return before we have found our way back, please tell Fiona we will be taking a late luncheon today.” With a smile directed at his friend, Quinn turned his attention back to the rest of his company.

“So, where should we begin? Seeing as how the horses are currently in use, I can’t imagine empty stables would be a very exciting place to start.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:34 am

Colette couldn't help but smile as her fiance said her name, continuing to list off their vast potential for the morning. His voice was pleasant and kind, and she felt herself relax some to its cadence, only until he broke off, a faint blush coloring his cheeks as he looked to his sister.

In a sudden realization that this was all new to him too, this unfamiliarity and uneasiness, Colette felt a distinct rush of relief and wanted to tell him that she was in this, that he needn't worry. Instead, she settled for something far less dramatic. "Oh, what a difficult decision, it all sounds so-" she started, when another entered their conversation.

Colette's mouth immediately shut and her lips thinned at the very human reminder of all that had transpired the previous evening. Still, this man now was not drunk, entirely more put together, and so despite everything in her wanting to protest his company, she dare not say a word. Glancing at Verity, who was taking a careful sip of her coffee with a raised eyebrow and making direct eye contact with her twin, Colette looked back to Quinton as well.

Verity immediately launched into some small talk, but Colette didn't speak and folded her napkin onto her plate, signaling that she was finished. Thankfully a servant came to take it away, as her appetite was entirely gone and replaced with an uncomfortable amount of nerves once more.

Her meal being cleared seemed to set off a chain reaction, and soon Quinton was pulling out her chair for her and offering his arm for her to take. She returned his smile only after he spoke, for his words were once again kind and warm. No matter anyone else here, it seemed she had a friend in Quinton, and she would do well to keep reminding herself of that.

"Thank you, Quinton," she stopped, more touched than the situation warranted. "I...I truly appreciate it," she finally decided on. In a desperate moment she wanted to share that she had written to her father the night before, and then burned the letter, if only to tell someone just how worried she truly was, but Quinton was breaking away from her to open the door and the chance was fortunately lost.

The first to step through, it was a wonder she was able to clear the door and give enough room to follow her out, for Colette stopped only a few steps away. The sun was just breaking over the horizon, the sky a faint pink, and the grass glittered with dew. Immediately, her heart ached for home, and she couldn't bear to turn away until she heard voices once more, in the middle of an exchange.

She didn't catch everything, something about Mrs. Ashbrook being out. It was strange for someone to be making a call so early, and Colette's thoughts immediately flew to the idea that it must have something to do with her. Somehow, someway, the woman was either off complaining about their new family member or worse. Quinton's brief uneasiness only confirmed her fears, until she heard Verity.

"Oh, I remember now. Mother went to fetch some new training supplies," Verity smirked, seemingly at her own forgetfulness, but carefully caught her twin's eyes in support. With this, Colette forced herself to forget her worries, as they were clearly unfounded and irrational.

"I don't mind where we go," Colette said, hoping to be the picture of pleasant and agreeable. "It is quite a wonderful morning." She smiled cautiously, blinking in the rising sun as eyes turned to her, surprised that she was the first to speak.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It took a supreme amount of effort for Verity to not roll her eyes at her twin's entirely proper fiance, but in the thought that they could do much worse in this family she found the will to smile and laugh at break out from their small party, stomping ahead in the grass.

She was concerned of where her mother could have gone, worried about her twin, and still uneasy of their newest arrival. In response, clearly the best thing to do was to get as far away from the Institute as possible, preferably with only Quinton as her company, but that being a rare occurrence from now on had crossed her mind.

In true Verity fashion, she knowing that if she stopped to think too long she'd be forced to face her fears, the young woman quickly launched the party into their expedition.

"Well, Colette, you may not have a preference, but I certainly do. Walking is supposed to be good for the youth, is it not? Let us make our way to the pond, it is a longer trek but perhaps we will be fortunate and the ducks will be swimming around today." Verity now lightened and beamed, realizing that for at least a few hours she would not have to deal with her mother.

The rising sun lit her hair up copper, and Verity cleared her throat. "Lord Brantley, if you please," she beckoned, taking up his arm. "The last time I made this walk I ended up in the water, so perhaps we could avoid that this time." Verity smiled, happy to see Quinton and Colette, arm in arm, take the lead after she spoke.

"It really is a lovely day, don't you agree?" Verity asked her companions, lifting her face to the sun and closing her eyes. Her hair blew in the faint breeze, and she could almost pretend she were somewhere else.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:09 pm

Hale silently observed the picture of perfection that was Colette Cartwright. He hadn’t given the girl much attention the night before, his thoughts having been otherwise occupied. A night’s sleep, however, had restored his particular skill of being able to focus on many lovely things all at once. And, she was lovely; there was no denying it. But, there was also something terribly sad about her beauty. It reminded him very much of a trip he had taken recently to an exhibit of exotic animals, where he had glimpsed the beautiful plumage of a peacock. Colette’s refinement had the very same dulled light as that trapped creature’s feathers had carried. I wonder what trap she has fallen into, Hale wondered to himself.

Finishing off the last of his toast, Hale quitted his seat with the rest of the breakfast party. Spending the morning walking around with three Shadowhunters was never going to top his list of activities. However, as he approached the door, which was so gallantly being held by Quinton Ashbrook, Hale figured that no outing could be completely boring if one had a head full of creativity.

“What a narrow opening this is,” Hale said, sidling much closer to the man than the space required and just barely brushing Quinton’s chest with his own. “Pardon me, sir.”

The brush had only been meant as a playful flirtation, but Hale had to admit that the slight warmth spreading throughout his chest was not purely the sun’s doing. This fact only seemed to deepen his curiosity.

The others were continuing the discussion of the missing harpy lady, as well as where their morning walk would be taking them. Both topics failing to interest him, Hale set off down the hedged path on his own. He rarely ventured outside during the day, preferring the sparkling lights of freshly lit street lamps, that only came with the dark. However, the abnormally blue sky paired well with the light breeze, flowing through the nearby copse of trees. The sight was quite nice.

A light, musical laugh found its way to him on the wind, followed quickly by it’s owner. He smiled down at the fiery-eyed Verity Ashbrook and gladly took up her arm. He had been impressed by the tenacity of last night’s ‘fainting spell’ and was sure there was much more where that came from.

“If you insist, my dear,” Hale said, eyeing the stoic form of his walking partner’s twin. “I’ve found in my experience that a quick dip in the pond does much to support one’s health, as well as to make one’s figure look absolutely stunning. Maybe we should wait until Lawrence Greymark returns. Wouldn’t want a soaked gown to go to waste.”

Hale gave her a conspiring look full of mischief, and then turned back to the couple in front of them, his eyes darkening a shade. For a couple they were. Quinton’s kindness towards Colette coupled with the party Hale had interrupted last night made Hale think that he had been flirting with a betrothed man. And, if his earlier thoughts on Colette’s trapped state had any merit, then he was almost sure that it was an arranged betrothal. That definitely complicated things. Not that Hale wasn’t familiar with wooing a married man, or a woman, for that matter. It was normal for a rich heiress or man of worth to sneak around behind his spouse’s back. Still, it was far from his favorite kind of relationship. Hale preferred a much more linear set up, compared to one that resembled a triangle. But, Quinton was something else. Hale had no idea what yet, but it was definitely something that he was willing to risk making a mess over.

“Those have to be the most beautiful flowers I have ever laid my eyes on,” Hale exclaimed, a plan forming in his head as he spotted a patch of green carnations. “Come, ladies, we must take advantage and pick a few.”

Hale raced forward, Verity’s hand still tight in his grasp. Passing the others, he grabbed onto Colette’s free hand, ignoring her gasp of surprise, as he towed both woman to the flowers. Usually, he liked to distract with a shower of fireworks or dancing bears, but green carnations would have to do for the present. Picking one perfect collection of petals, Hale turned to walk back to the slightly taken aback Quinton.

“How the ladies do love such small, delicate things,” Hale said, reaching out to Quinton’s jacket and promptly securing the carnation at the lapel. “If you’ll pardon my saying so, this particular shade of green quite becomes you, Mr. Ashbrook.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Geneva emerged from the Institute, as soon as she was sure that the others had left for their walk. She never approved of sneaking around, but, as she pulled the hood of the cloak over her head, she knew that this was one journey that she did not want to be recognized on.

“I’m ready, boy,” Geneva barked, eyeing Jamie as he straightened up from the relaxed position he had taken up against the carriage.

She ignored his proffered hand, as she pulled herself up into the dingy interior of the carriage. Hopefully, after everything was put to rights, she’d be able to buy a new carriage, more befitting of the leading family of the London Institute.

“Where exactly are you wishing to go, Mrs. Ashbrook,” Jamie asked, his face appearing pale through the window behind the carriage driver’s seat.

“Take me to the theater on Lexington, and no more questions,” Geneva responded, folding her pristine, white-gloved hands into the folds of the thick, dark wool of the cloak.

Jamie’s breath caught only briefly in his throat, before flicking the reins to jolt the horses into action. He had no idea what Mrs. Ashbrook could be wanting with the vampires of London, but he knew that it could be nothing good.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Wed Sep 14, 2016 5:38 pm

Quinn allowed himself to appreciate the soft rays of sun that colored the scene as the two pairs of their party began down the path. The upkeep of the front of the Institute was not what it used to be, despite Jamie’s best efforts, though it still held a comforting sense of familiarity. He could only imagine what Colette saw, the grand London institute, once so proud now just a shadow of what it once was.

Though what he saw was much different, the untrimmed hedges were where he and James used to hide from Fiona after stealing sweets from the kitchen, the weed filled garden was once where the twins would hide for as long as they could manage from their mother’s watchful gaze, Verity making a mess of her pristine dresses as Quinn sketched, all the while still worrying about getting dirt on his trousers.

The two of them had been isolated for so long from other shadowhunters their age, their only social interactions being when and with whom their mother deemed fit that now, sharing their small world with these two strangers left him feeling exposed. He couldn’t help but let his mind wander back to the suave man walking behind them, his extravagance and self confidence giving him an air of someone well traveled and versed in the ways of the world, Quinn knew he must look like a naive child to the other.

Realizing he had been quiet for a long period of time, he finally turned his attention back to the young lady at his elbow just in time to see her being pulled away by the same outlandish Lord he couldn’t seem to keep his mind from straying to. With only enough time to make a small protesting noise, Quinn found himself standing alone on the trail where there had only seconds before been four as Lord Brantley all but dragged the two women towards a patch of flowers.

“How the ladies do love such small, delicate things.” Even in his state of bewilderment, Quinn couldn't help the indignant snort at the lord’s comment.

“You obviously still have a lot to learn about my sister.” Unable to hold back a smile as he felt rather than saw his sister roll her eyes at the accusation that she would be moved by anything small or delicate.

“If you’ll pardon my saying so, this particular shade of green quite becomes you, Mr. Ashbrook.” The unexpected tug at his jacket made Quinn freeze, his mind taking a second too late to catch up to what was happening. His normal reaction would have been to stutter something meek and take a pointed step backwards, but something about the way the older man was watching him made him keep his position, the two standing just slightly too close.

He could feel the way Lord Brantley was sizing him up, as if taking his measure and despite his rational sense insisting that he was being foolish, he couldn’t stand the thought of being found wanting under that unnerving gaze.

“Could it be because that particular shade seems to pair so well with the color of your jacket, Lord Brantley? Perhaps it isn’t just the ladies who have an eye for the more delicate things.” His voice was soft so that only the lord standing so close to him could hear, finally allowing himself to look up and meet the man’s eyes for the first time that morning.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:21 am

Hale had not known how he was expecting Quinn to react, having finally gotten the mesmerizing Shadowhunter alone long enough to test the waters between them.

When separated from Colette, Quinn had made nothing more than a glorified gasp of protestation. Hale comforted himself with the notion that if the man had truly been in love with his fiancé, then stealing her away so abruptly should have caused a much more vocal response. The fact that Hale was even seeking notions to comfort himself with was show enough of how far he had let this ‘curiosity’ get to him.

Whatever he had been expecting or not expecting, Quinn promptly threw them all on their heads by not only maintaining his ground, but meeting Hale’s gaze with a steady, inquiring one of his own. Hale couldn’t help the small, genuine smile forming or the small chuckle that escaped his lips.

“You’ve found me out, sir,” Hale replied, feigning a shamed expression. “But, I wonder if you quite understand my fascination with delicate things. You see, they have a wonderful power of their own, to entrance and entice you in with their soft edges, only to surprise you with the strength of their beauty and spirit.”

Hale leaned in ever so carefully, putting his mouth next to Quinn’s ear, as if to share a deeply held secret.

“And, I think we both realize how enjoyable surprises can be,” Hale whispered, the image of Quinn’s eyes so bright and open in astonishment, as he had captured his mouth with a kiss replaying in his head.

Hopefully leaving Quinn with that very same remembrance, Hale stepped back and turned around to the ladies, who were still occupying themselves with the carnations.

“Now, am I going prematurely deaf, or did someone promise a view of a pond?”
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:04 pm

Colette's breath left her in a gasp as her free hand was taken up by none other than Lord Brantley, and she was rushed away from Quinton along with Verity. She bit her tongue to keep from sputtering something indignant or protesting, and as her eyes focused on the flowers before her, she noticed that they were indeed quite pretty.

Unlike her companions who immediately went to pick the flowers, breaking their green stems to better admire the beauty, Colette lowered her face into a bloom and breathed in slowly. The scent was perfectly floral as one would expect, but if she closed her eyes she could almost imagine she were in France once more, on an outdoor excursion with her father and his wife.

"We had a patch of these exact flowers just outside our home," Colette said softly, surprising even herself with her vulnerability. Her tone was happy enough, but had she kept talking she would have said that her mother was the one who planted them, after her father had argued of the practicality of placing them in the full shade of the house. He had eventually conceded however, and just laughed as they flourished despite his earlier concerns.

Colette caught Verity's eyes, who seemed to be looking at her with a sense of curiousness. She surmised that Verity was not one to often hide her emotions, and whether purposely or accidentally, her face was easy to read, and it were as if she were looking at the blonde for the first time.

Verity had been plucking petals off the flower she had picked one by one, and she smiled when she looked back down to her hands to see her work. "Did you ever play that game as a child, where you would pluck off the petals of a flower to determine if they boy of your thoughts or dreams loved you or not?"

Colette smiled in return, thankful for the subject change. "Yes, always. I never seemed to be able to pick a flower with an odd number of petals, though." With the thought of a very young version of herself breaking off the last petal with a "he loves me not," and then throwing the destroyed flower down to run back to her mother, Colette turned to find Quinton.

"I guess you no longer need to worry about that now, do you?" Verity said, an amused sound leaving her lips, but it was cool and her tone was off. Still, Colette agreed, finally making eye contact with her fiance after turning to look back at his twin for only a moment at her words.

~~~~~~~~

Verity absentmindedly plucked off the petals of the flower in her hand, not watching the girl next to her inhale the pleasant aroma of the blooms but instead turning to look back at her twin and Lord Brantley.

She didn't know if it were the fact that he was her brother or her parabatai, or perhaps the combination of both, but a fierce sense of protectiveness always clouded her thoughts whenever Quinton was involved with anything potentially dangerous. This feeling rose in her now as she watched the two men interact.

Although she was generally the more emotional one of the two, with violent ups and downs in her quickly changing moods with every varying feeling in between, Quinton had always seemed to be one that when broken, would be broken for good. God forbid anything like that ever occur while she was here, and while looking at Lord Brantley, she couldn't help the glare that settled on her face, even when she observed that Quinton seemed to be holding his ground. In fact, that only made her more concerned.

Broken from her reverie at Colette's words of home, Verity was almost startled. Although the blonde was a few inches taller than she, Verity was looking down on her as the girl had lowered her head to the flowers. Something similar to pity flooded her heart, and for the first time Verity was struck with how unfortunate this might turn out to be, not only for her beloved brother, but also for his future bride.

Verity finally looked down in her hands at her own flower, half the petals scattered on the grass around her. She was reminded of childhood fun, hiding in the garden with Quinton and the silly games she played, and spoke accordingly, if only to detract Colette from whatever conversation path she had steered them on and to keep her from looking back behind her.

It did not last long though, and Verity couldn't help the words that slipped out of her as Colette's eyes searched for Quinton's. "I guess you no longer need to worry about that now, do you?" she said with a cold amusement.

She wasn't necessarily angry with the poor girl before her, merely at the entire situation Quinton was being forced in. Her emotions couldn't be helped, and when Lord Brantley seemed to finally be finished with her brother, Verity still wasn't particularly pleased.

"Oh my, did no one ever teach you that patience is a dear virtue, Lord Brantley?" She could sense Quinton's entertainment at her words, as Verity herself had never been one for waiting throughout their entire lives.

"Besides, were you not the one who wanted to stop and smell the flowers? It's your own fault we have not yet arrived." She was teasing, but took his arm with more force than before and led him further from her twin. "Fret not though, it won't take much longer."

True enough, the time passed quickly and soon they were facing the pond. The sun shone brightly down from it's spot higher in the sky, and the slight breeze rustled the leaves of the trees around them.

"Oh, this is absolutely lovely," Colette said brightly, standing with her arm looped through Quinton's. She turned to him, seeking his reaction and noticing the carnation in his lapel for the first time.

Verity was the one that answered with a sigh. "It is, is it not?" She said, turning to her companions. The party was standing at the pond's edge, watching the water ripple about, and in a moment Verity was altogether bored with the serenity that had descended.

"What was it you said about a quick dip in the pond and a person's figure?" Verity teased, nudging Lord Brantley toward the water. It wasn't her original plan for him to actually fall in, she merely wanted to catch him off guard, but she wasn't at all disappointed with or sorry for what occurred. Verity laughed with no hesitation as the Institute's most scandalous guest made a splash in the pond.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:34 pm

“When it comes to me, my dear, it’s just always safe to assume that I failed all previous lessons of virtue with flying colors,” Hale explained, making his way to Verity. “As for the flowers, I always take time to notice the many beauties of this world, which is why I am so honored to be walking out with you today, Miss Ashbrook.”

Hale drew her hand up to his face, gave it a light kiss, and returned it back to the crook of his arm. It never hurt to compliment the family of the one that was being persued. Verity also did not seem like the type that one wanted as an enemy. The woman had definitely inherited her mother’s boldness and fire. The grip that she was currently inflicting upon his arm made Hale feel as if his bones were made of silk, instead of his jacket. Pity the man who betrays her.

Hale’s plan of gentle coercion, as he saw it, was going perfectly to plan. Except, of course, that he had presently run out of said plan. His mind raced, as the group gradually made their way to what he assumed would be the final destination of the morning trip, the pond. Thinking back to the unexpected show of strength he had seen in Quinton’s eyes, Hale was even more eager to not lose any of the ground that he had won today. He needed a final act, one that would astonish and amaze. A real crowd pleaser. Hale once again cursed his bleak surroundings. There wasn’t much anyone could do with sparsely leafed trees and pointy shrubs, not even Lord Hale Brantley.

"Oh, this is absolutely lovely," Colette said brightly.

Hale’s attention immediately snapped back from his musings, some of which included a sudden leprechaun siting or a declaration of a chronic, life threatening illness. His eyes fell on the waters, glittering from the generously glowing sun. With a flash of sudden remembrance, Hale heard in his mind’s ear telling Verity about the attractive properties that pond-soaked clothes afforded their owner. It would take some quick reflexes on his part, but getting Quinton and himself into the pond would definitely be doable.

He walked with the others to the end of the pond’s dock, admiring the flashes of silver that came whenever a fish came near to the surface. He had already sized up the distance he would have to cross in order to catch Quinton’s arm. Now, he need just lean forward, pretending to see a friendly turtle or other pond dwelling creature, and then let gravity do the rest. However, Verity had other ideas.

"What was it you said about a quick dip in the pond and a person's figure?” she said, her voice and the intentions behind it registering with him too late.

Her nudge was gentle, but was aimed in the complete opposite direction he had been planning to fall. Ever the optimist that he was, Hale threw out his arm anyway, smiling triumphantly when he grabbed onto what was most definitely an arm.

The water was colder than he had been expecting. The temperature, more than the impact, succeeded in knocking all the air from his chest. Thankfully, the pond was not more than six feet, so he quickly bounced off the mushy bottom and came up from air.

Instead of finding a beautifully soaked Quinton, Hale found Colette, gasping and looking all sorts of flustered. He honestly could not have been more surprised if he had resurfaced to find himself holding hands with the imagined turtle of before. His aim was definitely not what it used to be.

“I promise you, Miss Cartwright, I am quite as disappointed as yourself,” Hale said, removing a lily pad from his shoulder.

Seeing her disgruntled expression, that seemed to say that her disappointment far exceeded his own, Hale tried to amend the situation.

“I will say that I stand by my earlier testament, your figure does look quite attractive in this fashion,” Hale said, cheerily.

Seeing as how that produced an even worse response, Hale sighed and gave up trying to make either of them feel better. He offered her his help, as they both made their way back to shore. He was not surprised in the least when she ignored it.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:17 pm

The party had approached the pond, standing close to the water's edge, and Colette had detached from Quinton to better look at the ripples the gentle breeze made over the surface and the fish that were only flashes of silver as they swam by.

Verity's words floated over her ears, and as she hadn't been particularly amused earlier when the idea of a person's figure had been brought up, Colette chose to not comment. The choice was one she so often made, and rarely did it cause her strife or regret. From the few interactions she had with Verity so far, it seemed that the two girls quite differed in this sense.

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her arm, a force pulling her into the pond, and although she tried to wrench herself out of the grasp, gravity was far stronger than she and in a moment Colette felt the cool water surrounding her as her head went under for a few seconds.

Surfacing, coughing slightly, Colette turned to find none other than Lord Brantley beside her. Although utterly soaked, he still seemed to be cool and collected, whereas the blonde felt heat rising in her cheeks and coughed once more. She felt tears sting her eyes at the complete humiliation this entire situation was, and could not bear to imagine what Quinton must be thinking in this moment.

“I promise you, Miss Cartwright, I am quite as disappointed as yourself,” Hale said, and Colette blinked quickly and looked briefly up at the sun to stop herself from crying. Her hair that had been so carefully pinned earlier now hung in thin pieces around her face, the pretty blonde muted to almost a dull gray by the water.

"Please don't," She said quietly, as Hale continued in his cheerful way, unable to form any more words. He seemed to be trying to help her out of the water, something she thought as very uncharacteristic for him, but Colette pushed past him to climb out of the pond as quickly as she possibly could.

She looked to Quinton and Verity, who were both standing with varying degrees of surprise, and looking down at herself Colette realized that her dress now clung to her, weighted down by the water, and that the layers of petticoats she had underneath were quite visible. Again, the girl blushed, and stood paralyzed as the breeze picked up and goosebumps formed on her arms.

~~~~~~~~

Verity snapped out of her trance to look at her brother, waiting for him to take the lead, but he seemed equally unsure of how to handle this new development. Looking back to the poor Colette, who seemed a breath away from either crying or fainting, Verity was immediately reminded of all the meek, trembling girls she met in the mundane world, either at their first rally due to some injustice they had faced or dragged there by a stronger-willed friend.

"Quinton, perhaps Colette could borrow your jacket, she must be quite cold." Verity said, wrapping her arm around her and leading her away from the water's edge. She helped the blonde slip the expensive outerwear on.

As funny as she thought it would be to see Hale in the pond, Colette had ended up being the brunt of her joke, and Verity despised the uncomfortable situation the blonde had been put in. Verity would have laughed the accident off, but having interacted in this society for so long, and with mundane girls that still would not dare speak their mind or cause any disturbance, she knew what this cost Colette, and felt entirely sorry for her.

"Come with me, we'll go back and get you dried off and changed and forget the whole thing," Verity said, ever the one to defend the powerless. She felt Colette breathe a sigh of relief, and smiled at the mumbled thank you she received.

"I trust you two won't get into too much trouble without the presence of lady company," Verity tossed over her shoulder as she walked away, being very deliberate in her eye contact with her twin. Hale had left the water and was currently standing there as proof that water did make one's figure more attractive as he ran his fingers through his damp hair to push it back. She hated to leave them, but for once she felt that there was someone who needed her help more than Quinton.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:52 pm

Shrugging off his jacket, Hale looked down at the ruined silk with much more regret than he usually expressed. He had obeyed his mother in going to live at the Institute, but he wouldn’t put it past the cow to have seriously decreased his allowance, just out of spite. He was most likely no longer in the way to go around ruining massively expensive garments and then turn around and buy four more. Hale sighed, pulled a stray pond frond off the lapel, and laid it gently across a rock. Maybe the rare, English sun could work a miracle.

The sound of retreating footsteps caused Hale to look up, just in time to see the completely soaked form of Colette and the much drier one of Verity walk off. His sudden realization of his clothing situation had deafened him to anything except his own thoughts, but he was sure that the women were headed back to the Institute, to dry off. Hale himself quite loved the feeling of the sun slowly evaporating the water from his dress shirt and trousers. Another feeling joined the first, one of being watched.

Hale looked up into the startled gaze of one Quinton Ashbrook. It took Hale only a second of realizing that the two were finally alone, before he sauntered his way over to Quinton, gently cupped the man’s face, and leaned in.

“I’d take a deep breath if I were you,” Hale whispered, watching Quinton’s expression change from nervous excitement to confusion.

He didn’t have to wait long for an answer. With a much more successful grab than last time, Hale shoved Quinton unceremoniously into the water. Hale let out a contented noise. It was always good to see a plan through, especially when that plan would serve up such an attractive sight, once Quinton exited the murky, pond.

“I’d apologize, but we both know I wouldn’t mean it,” Hale said, watching Quinton’s head pop up. “I might be selfish, crass, and a horrible hand at whist, but I will always tell the truth. Most of the time.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:57 pm

So much for Shadowhunter reflexes.


Quinn only had enough time for the useless thought as the two bodies splashed into the pond, sending a spray of murky water up after them, splattering the front of himself and his twin whose expression of surprise was surely mirrored on his own face.


Had it been only Lord Brantley who had fallen victim to Verity’s plan, it would have been difficult to stifle a laugh though the look on his fiance's face pulled any humor from the situation. Frozen to the spot, he could only stare dumbly as the poor girl exited the pond, her skirts drooping and soaked through, without even the intelligence or courtesy to look away until his twins voice snapped him out of his stupor.


“O-of course.” Quinn stammered, finally dropping his gaze so that he could politely approach the shaking young woman and drape his jacket across her shoulders. His mind reeled with things that he should say, an apology, a burst of outrage, even just the offer of assistance like any decent person would be quick to supply in such a situation but no words formed on his lips. As usual, he was found completely useless in the face of a situation that really only required the most basic of social skills to manage and had to rely entirely on the aid of his sister.


“Thank you, Verity.” He finally managed to get out as the pair began to make their way back to the Institute.


“We will be along presently, I will have the kitchens prepare tea to be served for you both as soon as we make it back to the grounds.” Having spoken the most useful words he could manage, Quinn let a sigh leave his lips as soon as the ladies were far enough away to not hear it.


“Brilliant, Quinton. Absolutely brilliant.” He mumbled as his shoulders sank slightly before remembering that he wasn't alone after the absence of the pair that were hurrying away in the distance.


Lord Brantley looked as unbothered as ever as he gently laid his silk coat out to dry as if nothing at all had happened, leaving Quinn to stare incredulously at the other man. It didn’t take long before his gaping caught the notice of the lord, sending him walking far too smoothly for a man that was dripping head to toe in dirty pond water to clear the distance that was between the two of them.


Already with the seeming intelligence of the moss floating on the surface of the previously disturbed pond, Quinn could feel what little wit he claimed to have slip away as Lord Brantley's soaking wet form drew closer, an unreadable glint of something dancing in the man's dark gaze as he raised his hand to touch the side of the younger mans face, sending unwanted memories of the night before crashing into Quinn’s already befuddled brain.


“I’d take a deep breath if I were you,”


If there was anything Quinton could claim, it was that at least he remained consistent in his inability to understand what was happening until it had already happened. As such, he had only begun to make a noise of protest as he hit the surface of the water, briney pond water filling his throat as the others words began to make sense.


Coughing up the liquid that had temporarily replaced the air that was supposed to be in his lungs, Quinn trudged towards the bank of the pond, now dripping wet like the other, his frustrations of the last 24 hours finally bubbling to the surface as he scowled at the man who was looking quite pleased with himself a few feet away, safely on dry land.


“Prey tell, Lord Brantley. Is this what your honorable title allows you time to do?” He gestured to his dripping form, still waist deep in the water, his tone colored with the repressed emotion he had been holding in since the Lord had appeared the night before.


“Is this a hobby of yours? To show up where you are most certainly uninvited and just… just make a mess of everything!” It was less of a question and more of an accusation as his voice rose, rarely seen anger painting his features with a scowl that could measure up to one of his twins.


“Things were going to be fine until you showed up and you- you kissed me and ruined the dinner party and upset Colette. You keep looking at me like that and you’re just doing… all of that!” He gestured wildly at the entirety of Lord Brantley as if that was enough of an explanation to ‘all of that’. He knew he wasn’t making sense, he wasn’t even making sense to himself and yet he had said… whatever it was that he had actually said.


He was angry; with the situation, with himself, with how things were going and now here he was standing in the middle of a pond shouting at a nearly complete stranger and saying things that he should be absolutely mortified to say out loud. Frustration peeking, he moved in what could only be described as a tantrum like gesture, sending a rather impressive wave of icy pond water smacking against the man that stood on the bank.


The attack served only to surprise the two men, taking into consideration that the one standing on solid ground was already soaking wet, though the wave had brought back with it the Lords silk jacket that had been previously laid out on the shore to dry.


Quinn could only stare as the abused fabric floated, only partially emerged from the water towards him, the sight of the beautiful silk lying limply in the dark water bringing him back to his senses.


“Oh dear.” Was all he could get out as he clutched the jacket to himself before trudging his way to the bank of the pond to pull himself out where the other man still stood, now freshly dripping again.


“Lord Brantley, I beg your forgiveness, I just- It’s only that-” If there was a polite way to apologize for his behavior, his brain refused to come up with it as his proprietary tried to catch up to him.


“I’m sorry.” Was finally what he ended with as he handed the jacket back to its owner, avoiding looking up at the older man as a bright red hue warmed his otherwise icy cheeks.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:13 pm

Hale felt somewhat dizzy standing on the bank of the London Institute’s pond. He honestly couldn’t say whether the feeling came from being soaked through on a sunny, yet quite brisk, English day, or if the sight of Quinton Ashbrook, clothes clinging to every inch of his skin, was enough to cause his heart to race as fast as it was. Considering that Hale was a robust, Nephilim, he was more likely to bet on the latter.

Quinn was still waist-deep in the pond, small tendrils of heat whispering out from his body. Hale took a deep breath, unable to keep his eyes off the way Quinn’s shirt was so intimately hugging the lean muscles of his chest and biceps. It wasn’t often that Hale found himself jealous of a lowly, dress shirt, but, in this case, he would have traded places in an instant.

“Prey tell, Lord Brantley. Is this what your honorable title allows you time to do?” said Quinn, his voice shaking while he gestured to his semi-submersion.

Hale was on the verge of offering up a suggestive list of other things that his title allowed him time to do, a list that included sexual acts illegal in many countries, when Quinn sloughed on, no response apparently needed.

“Is this a hobby of yours? To show up where you are most certainly uninvited and just… just make a mess of everything! Things were going to be fine until you showed up and you- you kissed me and ruined the dinner party and upset Colette. You keep looking at me like that and you’re just doing… all of that!”

At this point, Hale was fully aware that there was more going on than just an annoyance at having been pushed into icy, cold water. Quinn’s face had been made sharp by his anger. And, with the anger came a frustration so strong, that only the most heartless person would be able to stop themselves from doing anything to soothe it all away. His stormy eyes were dark with inner turmoil.

Hale was speechless and he was rarely so. Other people’s emotional troubles usually caused him discomfort, and he’d brush off their words with a witty comment and go and find another, less complicated person to entertain him. However, Quinn’s words had really struck him to the core. He’d joked earlier about being selfish, but, examining his actions from Quinn’s point of view, Hale berated himself for being so utterly insensitive and bullish. He had been so caught up in his own game, that he hadn’t looked deeper than surface level when it came to Quinn. And, because of this, he had rammed through everything and caused Quinn pain.

Hale took a step forward, whether to offer a hand or in a gesture of apology. He didn’t have a chance to decide which way to go because Quinn’s fury had finally broken through in a strangely poetic wave of icy water. Hale had been nearing a somewhat drier state, but the wave sent him right back to square one. He honestly would have suffered a whole torrent of icy water, just as long as Quinn stopped looking at him with so much rage and resentment. Thankfully, Quinn’s face had relaxed back into its usual, concerned form. The concern was currently being directed to Hale’s silk jacket. Hale couldn’t have cared less about it, and not in the spoiled heir fashion of before, but rather because the clothing was not in any way significant enough to add to Quinn’s already stressed mind. However, Quinn had already retrieved the jacket, made his way back to shore, and handed it, dripping, into Hale’s arms.

“Lord Brantley, I beg your forgiveness, I just- It’s only that-I’m sorry,” Quinn said, his eyes not looking at anything but Hale himself.

Hale took a deep breath, squeezing the fabric in his hands, which promptly let out a deluge of pond water. He ignored it and placed a hand on Quinn’s shoulder. This time his touch had none of the heated desire from before, and was instead an offer of friendly support.

“You are the last person who should be apologizing right now,” Hale said, finally catching Quinn’s gaze. “I apologize for everything that I have done that has caused you pain. I have been an entitled arse to everyone, but especially to you. I could say that I was too caught up in my own troubles to notice yours. That I came uninvited because I had nowhere else to go. I could have you pity me by saying that my mother cast we away from everything that I knew because she was too ashamed of me. But, none of that excuses my utter monstrous behavior towards you, last night and today.”

Hale’s breath left him with his words in a quick, clipped tone. When he spoke of his own situation, he hadn’t been able to maintain Quinn’s gaze and instead looked down at his jacket. He was never this raw and unarmored with anyone. It was uncomfortable and jagged and real. Hale felt himself in strong need of a stiff drink. From the look of Quinn earlier, he might not have to drink alone.

“I know I have inflicted a lot on you already, but I think killing you by means of a terribly awful cold would truly top the cake,” Hale said, somewhat awkwardly. “Might we return to the Institute and administer some liquid warmth? As a professional at being pushed into bodies of waters, I can attest that it does the trick.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:18 pm

The feeling of Lord Brantley’s hand on his shoulder made Quinn jump slightly but he didn’t pull away. The touch was different than the previous interactions he had shared with the older man in the last few hours, there was nothing hidden behind the gesture, there was only a comforting warmth despite the icy chill that clung to him with the pond water.


“I apologize for everything that I have done that has caused you pain. I have been an entitled arse to everyone, but especially to you. I could say that I was too caught up in my own troubles to notice yours. That I came uninvited because I had nowhere else to go. I could have you pity me by saying that my mother cast we away from everything that I knew because she was too ashamed of me. But, none of that excuses my utter monstrous behavior towards you, last night and today.”


Quinn hadn’t been sure what the Lord's reaction to his outburst would be, somewhere between insulted anger or the man's seemingly usual cavalier indifference. He was certainly expecting some stinging comment or joke at his expense, but what he was absolutely unprepared for was an apology and unexpected show of honesty and kindness. The soft vulnerability that had replaced Hale’s haughty smirk made it almost impossible for Quinn to look away as his heart began to beat faster, this time not from anger or frustration.


“I know I have inflicted a lot on you already, but I think killing you by means of a terribly awful cold would truly top the cake,” Hale said, somewhat awkwardly. “Might we return to the Institute and administer some liquid warmth? As a professional at being pushed into bodies of waters, I can attest that it does the trick.”


It wasn’t until Hale spoke again that Quinn realized that he had just been staring dumbly at the older man, his stormy eyes wide with a sense of confused wonder from the unexpected transformation he had just witnessed. When the teasing tone that he had already grown accustomed to returned, Quinn couldn't help the smile that began to tug at his lips. He couldn't seem to find the words to respond to the Lord’s honesty in that moment but the notion that the other man fully intended to continue their interaction upon returning to the institute where they could talk unhindered by the chill that clung to them and the water droplets that were forming small puddles at their feet made a blossom of warm happiness begin to bloom in his chest.




“Tea does sound quite nice.” He said with a small sigh, his mouth once again working quicker than his brain as he realized what Hale actually meant by ‘liquid warmth’.


“I mean, to start with. We can start with tea then…” He bit down on his lower lip as he tried to remember the amber liquid that he remembered his father cherishing so much.


“Brandy!” He spoke too excitedly as the name came to mind but he tried to play it off as if it were just enthusiasm for the drink itself and not a total lack of experience when it came to liquor.


“I do hope you like Brandy, Lord Brantley. I do believe we have quite the stock remaining from my father. He had quite the passion for it.” Tuning away from the other man, Quinn attempted to hide the blush that once again colored his cheeks, his ignorance of the world making him feel like a foolish child beside the worldly Lord.


“I am sorry though, truly. My actions were retched.” He began as the pair started towards the Institute, the water in their shoes making squishing noises as their wet forms turned the dirt to mud beneath them. He wanted to say more, but the thought of being able to learn more about the mysterious man beside him inside the safety of the institute and beside a warm fire made him walk with quick strides, more than equally matched by Hale’s long legs.
The walk back was much faster than the stoll to the pond and their quick pace helped to dry their clothing at least partially, through their both smelled quite like dirty water and mud. Quinn’s first thought was to go change, partly for comfort and partly because he feared his mother would return to find him in such a state. Though, even if he didn’t want to openly admit it, he was enjoying the way the Lord’s clothing still clung to his figure, the man’s comment about being commonly thrown into bodies of water making his imagination get the better of him.


He also wouldn't say it out loud but the thought of retiring to his bedroom and being separated from Lord Brantley even for a short amount of time seemed almost unbearable after their exchange by the pond. Despite his resolution to stay near Hale though, he found himself almost sneaking back into the Institute, the fear of running into Fiona in his retched state almost as frightening as being seen by his mother, not to mention the fact that he knew his presence would soon be required to check on his fiance.


“Father kept his stores in the library, it was his favorite room.” He found himself saying in a quiet tone as he held the door open for the other man before following and shutting the heavy wooden door as quietly as he could. It wasn’t until the two were closed in the vast room together that he realised he had no idea where his father had actually stored his prized liquor.


“I… um… Haven't partaken in a while… I imagine his locker has been moved since then…” He tried to sound as confident as he could but knew it was a feeble attempt. Turning away from Lord Brantley once more, he busied himself by making his way to the blazing fire, trying desperately to remember where he would see his father put away his new shipments of liquor with the pride of a man who had made it himself.


“Perhaps I should ring for Fiona? I’m sure she would know where it had been moved to.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:22 pm

“Tea does sound quite nice.”

It had been quite some time since Hale had fought so hard to contain a laugh. He was surprised that he still could, having long ago given up on ever utilizing a filter. But, his previous actions had made him a good deal more sensitive, and he could see that laughing at and correcting Quinn as to what drink he had meant would only cause Quinn to retreat farther into himself in embarrassment. He wanted to get to know this particular Shadowhunter better and, if that meant sipping tea, complete with saucers, Hale would do so, with a pinky out for good measure.  

“I mean, to start with,” Quinn added, biting his lip in concentration. “We can start with tea then…Brandy! I do hope you like Brandy, Lord Brantley. I do believe we have quite the stock remaining from my father. He had quite the passion for it.””

The lip biting momentarily sent Hale’s mind to a dark room where very improper things were committed by himself, that lip playing a key role in all the acts. On the outside, though, Hale smiled charmingly.

“Brandy would be just the thing,” Hale said, truly meaning what he said. “I haven’t a good, aged brandy in some time. It does quite a fun trick with making everything seem to be coated in velvet, including your head.”

Hale promptly waved away Quinn’s further attempt at an apology. It wasn’t necessary, and it just reminded Hale of how rude and insensitive he had been about the whole thing earlier. Sure, Hale was a smooth talker, but today and the night before had not been his best work. Usually, he had more care, a trait he definitely planned on implementing in the future. Looking over at the steady blush crawling up Quinn’s fragile neck, Hale knew he was lucky to be getting another chance.

The stone of the Institute filled his vision much sooner than he had expected. This time, he allowed a considerate amount of room for Quinn to pass into the hall, as Hale held the door. A quick glance upward caught the slim form of Edward, leaning over the bannister. Hale gave him a quick smile and then noticed that he had fallen behind Quinn and hurried to catch up.

Following him through a door off the hall, Hale wondered what the freeing qualities of the brandy might bring out in this new friend of his. He had seen a few glimpses of tenacity, but most of Quinn’s true self seemed to be bricked up behind a strict sense of propriety. Hale quietly cursed the she-devil from the night before, having seen the same strictness in her and knowing without being told that she was the reason Quinn was so withheld.

“Father kept his stores in the library, it was his favorite room,” Quinn said, opening a final door.

A wave of warmth hit Hale as soon as he entered the wood-paneled room. A brief chill went through him in response to the temperature difference between the cold of his damp shirt and the warmth from the fire. On further notice, it seemed odd that there was a fire in this room at all; it seemed somewhat abandoned. Not the classical dirty or dusty ways of abandonment, though. Every surface was polished and gleaming. The books that laid claim to three of the four walls showed the vibrant colors of tomes that have been lovingly taken care of. With his Shadowhunter vision, however, Hale could see the stiffness of the backings, a sign of little use. He also noticed the arms of the chairs were absent the familiar fraying that was present in all the other chairs he had seen seen at the Institute, so far. This place was not often used; he could tell that easily. It still seemed to belong to someone else, though, and this made him feel like an intruder.

“I… um… Haven't partaken in a while… I imagine his locker has been moved since then…,” Quinn said, obviously feeling a different kind of discomfort.

Hale kept another chuckle from escaping. He honestly would have been surprised if Quinn had known where to find his father’s stash. The Shadowhunter obviously didn’t partake much if at all, which only made him more endearing to Hale. It was refreshing, actually, compared to all the people he knew, who were all practically alcoholics.

“Do not fret, Mr. Ashbrook,” Hale said, already making his way behind the great, oaken desk that sat under a window, to the left of the fire. “I’m the Sherlock Holmes of brandy. Some might even say a blood hound with liquors.”

Hale had just made a grab for the top drawer of the impressive piece of furniture, when a small, almost inaudible voice inside himself told him to stop. He had already deduced that the owner of this room had not been in it for many years, and Quinn had let on that his father’s brandy was to be found in it. It wouldn’t be a jump to assume that this was Quinn’s father’s domain. Or was, if Hale had guessed correctly. Someone trying quite valiantly to make up for being an insensitive idiot didn’t go around rifling through someone else’s dead father’s desk. Not at least without asking first.

“It should be in this desk somewhere,” Hale said, looking over at Quinn by the fire. “I kept a whole distilleries worth of whiskey in my desk at my old apartment. Would you mind if I looked through the drawers?”

Quinn seemed surprised, but, after a moment, nodded with a soft smile upon his lips. Hale gave him one in return and bent to his work.

The first drawer stuck on the track coming out, telling Hale outright that what he was looking for wasn’t in there. Someone who kept stores of brandy would have opened the drawer it was kept in so often that there would be little effort in getting to it. He went on to the next, which failed the same test. On his knees now, Hale moved to the other side and tried the top drawer. It slid out smooth as an oiled nymph from her tree. He gave a small shout of triumph, that was quickly stifled when all he found was a sheaf of papers. Furrowing his eyebrows somewhat, Hale removed the papers. He had to squint his eyes, but he finally saw it: a rune to lock something away, etched in the wood of the desk.

“Clever,” Hale whispered, smiling to himself. With a wife like the she-devil, he was sure Quinn’s father had had to be secretive about his indulgences.

Taking his stele from his pants pocket, Hale drew the appropriate, unlocking rune on top of the other. A dull thunk came from under the desk, where the person sitting at the desk would lay their feet. Moving the chair away, Hale poked his head underneath. It was dark, but Hale’s eyesight was good enough to spot the small crack against the wooden back. Prying his fingers into the gap, he felt the panel move, revealing a small cache of crystalline bottles filled with amber liquid. Two glasses sat next to the brandy. He grabbed a bottle of brandy and the two glasses, shuffled out from under the desk, and stood up.

“And, the Holy Grail has been found,” Hale announced triumphantly, setting the glasses on a nearby end table and peeling off the wax lid from the brand bottle. “Alert the presses if you feel the need.”

Splashing a considerable amount of liquid into both glasses, Hale palmed both and made his way back to the fire. On his way, he spotted a somewhat out of date gramaphone hidden in a corner. Hale glanced to Quinn, who looked up and followed Hale’s gaze to the gramophone, then nodded with another timid smile. Hale laid the drinks briefly on a shelf, while he investigated the record on the turntable. Hale definitely approved of Quinn’s father’s taste, setting the stylus and letting Charlotte Barnard’s “Take Back the Heart” paint the airwaves with her soft crooning.

Retrieving the drinks, Hale found his way back to Quinn without further distractions and handed him his glass. He picked a chair close to the fire, stretching his legs out like a contented cat. Taking a sip of the superb brandy, Hale looked to the chair across from him where Quinn sat.

“So, I’m not generally in the habit of participating in peaceful, fire-side parlor chats, so forgive me if I get the conversation wrong,” Hale said, his eyes drooping somewhat in response to the brandy and the comfortable warmth. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be quite familiar with this particular collection of stone and mortar. Was your childhood spent here?”
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:45 pm

All Quinn could do was stand hesitantly in front of the fire as his companion expertly started his hunt, looking truly like a bloodhound as the man had said himself. He found it increasingly difficult to pull his gaze away from the other man, especially while the older shadowhunter was distracted.

In any other situation, Quinn would feel uncomfortable welcoming a near stranger into his father's library, having almost deemed the ancient room a sanctuary of sorts for himself. He didn't come in here often but it was a space almost completely out of his mother's reach, she avoided the room as if it was the thing that killed Mr. Ashbrook itself. Even when the man had been living, Quinn always felt like the library was a world away from the Institute. Some of his favorite memories that he could only remember in fragments had to do with sitting at his father's feet in front of the fire; the crackle of the flames, the sound of the man’s gentle laughter, and the soft background noise of whatever mundane record he had recently fallen in love with (without his wife's knowledge of course. )

It all seemed so familiar that Quinn felt like he could almost hear the music from the last record he had remembered listening to before his father's death floating gently in the air around him. It wasn't until Lord Brantley appeared in his line of vision, holding the glasses of brandy he had promised, one outstretched for Quinn to take. Blinking stupidly for a moment, it took him a second to realise that music was in fact playing and to come back into reality.

Shaking his head as if to break out of the memories that had collided too closely to what was really happening, he offered the Lord a nod of appreciation before taking the seat across from where the other man had sat next to the fire.

Taking a large sip of the amber liquid, he had to compose himself quickly in an attempt to not spit the beverage out as it burned the back of his throat and made his eyes water. All he could do was take another large gulp in an attempt to pretend he hadn't almost made a complete fool out of himself. Following that with another gulp, he already began to understand what his companion meant by ‘'everything being covered in velvet’. With his last sip, he finished his glass, the burning becoming more pleasant as he felt the liquid begin to warm him from the inside.

“So, I’m not generally in the habit of participating in peaceful, fire-side parlor chats, so forgive me if I get the conversation wrong,” Quinn snorted unceremoniously at the others words.

“Lord Brantley, at this point in our short acquaintance, you've already kissed me in front of a dinner party with some of the most powerful Claive members in England and pushed not only myself but my fiance into a pond. Please forgive me if I don't quite expect polite fireside conversation, in fact that would be most disappointing.” There was no anger or accusation in his voice as there had been back when he was waist deep in said pond. In fact, something close to a giggle escaped from his lips at the thought before he could even attempt to suppress it.

“Yes, it was. My sister and I were born here. I've never known another home, or ever really traveled far from the Institute. Mother hadn't allowed us to spend our year abroad when we turned eighteen. I imagine you've been everywhere though. You seem… Cultured.” This time he bit down on his lower lip to stifle another giggle, completely unsure what he found so amusing.
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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After the Disaster...    Fri May 26, 2017 10:11 pm

Hale could practically feel the droplets of water evaporating from his clothes, as he gazed almost drowsily into the hearth’s roaring fire. The icy chill that had claimed his skin since the pond was practically melting away, leaving him content and feeling heavy with warmth.

Quinn had received the proffered glass of brandy with much more ease than Hale had expected, draining it in seconds. He smiled to himself, directed a soft ‘salut’ to the desk and its sturdy chair, and tossed back his own glass.

The liquor was definitely a fine one, Hale noticed, as well as strong. That had been expected, though. Shadowhunters didn’t mess around with low-proof alcohol. Usually, those higher-proof liquors lacked any real finesse, sacrificing nuances for the desired outcome. This particular brandy blanketed his tongue with a thick, caramel-like coating, kindling a pleasant flame in the center of his being.

Chuckling, Hale gave a self-deprecating, ‘what-can-you-do’ kind of shrug, in response to Quinn’s list of the former’s improprieties. He could tell that the brandy was also working its magic on the other Shadowhunter, Quinn’s usually straight back having already given into the softness of the chair. Hale watched in fascination as a wistful look of nostalgia further softened Quinn’s face, as he recalled his childhood.

“Yes, it was,” Quinn said. “My sister and I were born here. I've never known another home, or ever really traveled far from the Institute. Mother hadn't allowed us to spend our year abroad when we turned eighteen. I imagine you've been everywhere though. You seem… Cultured.”

At the mention of his past, Hale brought the glass to his lips, reflexively, only then remembering that it was empty. He unfolded himself from the armchair and turned to the little table just behind him, where the brandy bottle sat. In those few moments of coverage, Hale allowed himself a second of dark reflection on the years of negligence proceeding his father’s death, followed by his time in Idris, where his inner turmoil surfaced in terrorizing the teachers.

Collecting himself once again, Hale knew he wasn’t capable of revealing all his ghosts to Quinn just yet. No one had gotten close enough for that. Instead, Hale finished pouring and turned back to the fire, the brandy bottle in one hand and his glass in the other.

He had just decided to regale Quinn with his time in Morocco a couple of summers ago, a tale that not only included a ruby the size of a small dog, but the menacing, sand demon that guarded it, when he was stopped short by the sight of the damp impression of his body, left in the vacated armchair.

“I suggest we repair to the mantle, seeing as we are not as dry as previously thought,” Hale said, indicating the spots. “Thankfully, water does not leave a lasting stain, and I’m sure the warmth in this room will have them right in no time.”

Hale found himself hoping that the misstep wouldn’t be felt by Quinn for long; this more relaxed, confident side of the Shadowhunter was almost as intoxicating as the brandy. And, as he mimicked Quinn’s path to the mantle, Hale marveled at the way that the firelight made parts of his hair stand out in daring shades of auburn and cinnamon.

Whether it was this intoxication or the other, Hale found himself diverting from the Morocco story. He wanted to bare himself, if only briefly, to this man, who he had only met the previous day, but whom he had already formed an interesting connection with.

“My father was killed while out hunting,” Hale said, his voice slightly halting, not knowing exactly what to say. “He went out alone and was outnumbered. I was only a child. because of this, I never truly got to know him.”

Hale’s feelings went deeper on this particular memory. Earlier recollections of his father’s death had brought about a kind of guilt. If he had only been older, he would have been there with his father, been there to fight alongside him. Maybe he could have saved his father. These thoughts were much too raw to share, just yet. Hale took another swig of brandy to toast whatever these feelings were that were affecting him so.
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La Belle Epoque :: London, England :: The Institute-
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